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Gestational Diabetes – Facts You Must Know

Gestational Diabetes or Diabetes during prgnancy is a concern off late. With pregnancy being precious and each child seen as a boon, one can never take chances with your child getting affected due to this. Here we have tried to discus about gestational diabetes in detail.

What is gestational diabetes?

Image courtesy khunaspix
Image courtesy khunaspix

Diabetes that develops for the first time during pregnancy is called Gestational diabetes. The digestive system breaks down food into many substances one of which is Glucose. Glucose along with insulin from the pancreas produces energy that is required by the body. During pregnancy, hormonal changes lead to the requirement of more insulin for all the glucose. When the insulin is not sufficient, more amount of glucose is present in the bloodstream resulting in gestational diabetes. Mostly, women are not diabetic after delivery but there is risk of being diabetic in future and with other pregnancies. However, early diagnosed and controlled diabetes does not harm the mother or the baby.

How is it diagnosed?

A simple urine test indicates the level of sugar but it does not necessarily mean that you have gestational diabetes. The doctor additionally prescribes the glucose screening test where glucose is taken orally and a blood check is done.

How do I know if I have gestational diabetes?

There are no clear signs to indicate that you are diabetic. It is important to consider the risk factors such as

  • sugar in your urine
  • if you had gestational diabetes in your previous pregnancy
  • family history of diabetes
  • gave birth to a still baby
  • gave birth to a big baby
  • have high blood pressure
  • Over 35 years old.
  • Excessive weight gain during first trimester

Women without any of these risk factors are still prone to gestational diabetes therefore the doctor usually screens for diabetes during 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.

Does it affect my pregnancy and my baby?

Women with gestational diabetes go on to have a healthy pregnancy and delivery by following certain diets and safe exercises. Sometimes medication is required. Regular monitoring is essential to prevent complications.

What are the complications?

If the sugar level is not monitored, too much sugar ends up in baby?s blood stream leading to macrosomia. A macrosmic baby puts on weight mainly in the upper part of the body and may get stuck in the cervix. This issue is called shoulder dystocia and requires special procedures to take the baby out. Other complications due to macrosomia are brain damage to the baby due to lack of oxygen supply and vaginal injury. Considering these risks, the doctor might suggest a caesarean section.

There are other risks to the baby such as

  • polycythemia where the red blood cell count is high
  • hypocalcemia where the level of calcium in blood is low
  • preterm birth and respiratory distress syndrome where assisted breathing is provided until the baby?s lungs mature
  • hypoglycaemia, a condition where the blood sugar is low in a baby after birth. The baby?s pancreas produces more insulin to keep up with the high glucose from the mother and after birth the insulin level remains high whereas glucose from the mother is absent.
  • Type ? 2 diabetes later in life

Risks to the mother are:

  • The mother can develop preeclampsia where the blood pressure is very high proving to be fatal to both the mother and the baby.
  • Diabetes in future

How can I manage gestational diabetes?

Monitor your sugar level in the morning on empty stomach and after each meal to see if it is in the normal range. Follow a healthy meal plan, being conscious of what you are eating and some exercise are good ways to keep the sugar under control. Go for regular checkups during pregnancy and after delivery.

Dr Menaka Bharathi
Dr Menaka Bharathi
Dr Menaka Bharathi aka Simple Indian Mom is an Agricultural Microbiologist and helps moms to keep their family and kids naturally healthy both mentally and physically.
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